The Gift of Sauce – Ragu alla Bolognese

By Jessi Singson

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If the name Marcella Hazan doesn’t ring a bell to you, I’m about to introduce you to a very wonderful woman. Fondly referred to as the patron saint of the home kitchen, Marcella is considered the one of the greatest mothers of Italian cuisine.

When you read one of her books, you can almost feel her hovering over your shoulder with her hand on her hip as you follow her instructions. She speaks to you with an authoritative tone, stern and sure of herself, while also encouraging for you to taste, adjust, and find your own voice in the kitchen.

As a tribute to the late, great Marcella Hazan, today we will cook her ragù alla bolognese.

One of my favourite things to gift loved ones is a jar of homemade pasta sauce – in my opinion, it’s very thoughtful, and always seems to be much appreciated. To me, cooking is a wholehearted expression of love. So what better way to say “I love you” than food prepared from the heart? If you’re looking for a unique and delicious present for somebody you care about, then this is for you.

If you’re not looking for that, this is still for you – it would be a sin for me not to urge you to make this as soon as possible! It is perfect in its simplicity, and one of the best bologneses I’ve tried so far. Be warned, though, that this ragù is not for those in a hurry. It can take up to six hours to finish, so I suggest you start quite early in the day and have a good book on standby. It may sound tedious and daunting, but those 6 hours are a great excuse to sit back, relax, and take some time for yourself too!


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped celery

2/3 cup chopped carrot

3/4 pound ground lean beef (preferably chuck or the meat from the neck)


freshly ground black pepper

1 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups canned Italian tomatoes

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1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, add the oil, butter, and onions. Sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the celery and carrot, and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add the ground beef, a generous pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper. Break up the meat with a fork, stir, and cook only just until the meat looses its red, raw colour.

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3. Pour in the milk. Let it gently simmer away, stirring frequently. Once it has evaporated completely, stir in the nutmeg.

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4. Pour in the wine, and let it simmer away completely. Remember to stir every now and then.

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5. Once the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down so it simmers very gently. Cook, uncovered, for a minimum of 3 hours (Marcella says more is better, and it truly is). If it starts to dry out, add half a cup of water when you feel necessary. Taste and season.

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While at first your sauce will be a little watery and pale, given some (a lot!) of time and care, it will thicken, and deepen in colour. It will become gorgeously rich and absolutely delicious, I promise!

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Alternatively, you could toss it with some tagliatelle and garnish with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. While any kind of pasta would suffice, certain sauces pair better with certain pastas – in this case the tagliatelle is traditional, as its thickness and texture are ideal for a rich ragù alla bolognese.

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Buon appetito!

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    1. louie padilla October 17, 2013 at 10:58 am

      How long will this keep?

      1. Jessi October 18, 2013 at 1:51 am

        Hi there! You should cool down leftovers as quickly as possible (within 90 minutes ideally), then place in an airtight container. You can keep this in the fridge for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

    1. rachiel October 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      I want to know what is the best substitute for wine?

      Alcoholic drinks (i.e. wine, vodka, etc) are not exactly readily available in GCC countries. You need to have a licence so get one (background for my question).

      1. Jessi October 18, 2013 at 1:54 am

        Hi Rachiel, you could easily substitute white wine with chicken or vegetable stock (or even beef, or a combination of them), no problem! Some suggest trying with apple or white grape juice as well, but I’ve yet to try that myself.

    1. Yolly October 18, 2013 at 1:29 am

      Yummy! I love that you have pictures of the each step of the instructions.
      Looks so easy to follow. Will try to do it tomorrow. Btw, nice photography.

      1. Jessi October 18, 2013 at 2:28 am

        Thank you! Hope you enjoy yourself!

    1. Mary June Villanueva October 19, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Well done! Instructions are easy to follow especially for kids, teens and those who doesn’t really co Can’t wait to try it with my son.

    1. Charmaine Carreon October 21, 2013 at 3:34 am

      Yey! Will Definitely try this..So easy to make!

    1. Mylou October 22, 2013 at 4:38 am

      My family loves pasta and this recipe looks very delicious especially that the sauce is made out of scratch and not a store bought jar sauce. Would you recommend cooking this on a crockpot, say, after the meat browned?

    1. Sharmaine November 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Yummy!I want to try this one.




I gained weight because of a sedentary lifestyle and overly indulging in foods I knew were bad for me, eating out too often, taking the easy route (microwavable dishes) and not caring what went in my body, before I knew it reached 240 lbs. I lost weight through pure dedication, tireless hours of hard work and yes, food. I cooked my way to fitness, making sure to only feed myself tasty well prepared dishes with all the right stuff, the perfect fuel, taking me down to 150lbs. Of course I indulge from time to time, as the fat kid still lurks inside of me; here you will find a little bit of everything for the sole purpose of sharing my passion for food and life.





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